the real thang is coming out in the Inquirer daw this week. but just had to get this out of my head, about why exactly i’m so sad, and am in fact, in mourning:
because FrancisM just might be able to take credit for the kind of activism I found I was open to, having been exposed to him as a rapper and as a Pinoy when i was a 14-year old girl, who thought that rap — among many other things — could only be for Americans.
because, while I realized soon enough that “Mga Kababayan” was merely talking about a very universal notion of patriotism, it was clear that even FrancisM was growing out of it at the same time that i was. one only needs to listen to his evolution, from that first hit to “Ito Ang Gusto Ko” and “Nilamon ng Sistema”, and yes, “Kaleidoscope World”. from the happy to the sad to the real and true.
because FrancisM’s maturity was my own, in many ways, in relation to nation. his eyes were wide open, and he was unafraid to join in the fray. he challenged me to go beyond what was comfortable, what was familiar. it was difficult not to be challenged by someone who writes:
Three stars and a sun, in one sky, so high,
I live and die and die will I for my
Motherland this is the land of my birth,
No purse is worth the price of this earth
Can we rise, can we all, hell no!
Or should we all just take the fall?
Bless the man if his heart and his land are one
…3 stars & a sun! 3 stars & a sun!
I’m ready to defend the 3 stars & a sun!
because EDSA Dos was his stage, for anyone who cared to listen, and anyone who now cares to remember. “Magna Cum Nakaw” mirrored the frustration that we all felt then, and now:
Nandiyan na naman ang mga dating magnanakaw
nasa paligid ng palasyo pumupwesto
nakiki-agaw sa eksena
galis-lipunan parang eczema…magnanakaw,
mas makinis pa sa ’yo ang buwaya
mas matalino pa ang mga biya
mas mabagal ka pa sa pagong
huwag ka nang magtanong dahil isa kang ulupong!
because he evolved and became a human being beforemy eyes. when he began doing Eat Bulaga, it was as if he was saying: i’m sure of myself now, come and meet me. and so he allowed for the show to film him at home with his kids, and how he would “survive” without wife Pia (who the show gifted with a day at the spa, away from her wife and mother chores). the scene i remember most is him bathing the younger kids, and then bringing the older ones to school, and trying very hard to cook the meals.
for a man called the “Master Rapper”, these domestic images seemed like the least possible things that would do him good. and yet, in the hands of the more mature FrancisM it actually seemed like the most normal thing every other rock ‘n’ roll, tattooed artist, would want to become, or at least try being. alongside singing and dancing in drag, FrancisM was reconfiguring Pinoy macho-ness every day that he was willing to be himself and cross the line between being mere celebrity and being a real person.
who makes mistakes and recovers from them, gets sick and challenges it head-on, who is artist, poet, and rapper with no apologies. FrancisM celebrated being Filipino at the same time that he critiqued it. he assessed society and pointed a finger at the one who abuses power, who tramples on human rights, who pretends to be for the masses. he then spoke to those who were victimized by the system and said: find heart, raise a fist, fight for your rights.
it is difficult not to mourn FrancisM’s death. for all that he has said and done, but even more so for what he could’ve still said and done, had he lived longer, had he lived to tell more of his tales. as rapper, as artist, as Pinoy.